Uber for babies? Wish I’d thought of that

20/01/2016
We all cursed the day when Uber came on the scene. Not because it was a bad idea but a GREAT idea that we wished we had thought of and pursued five years ago, when waiting for a taxi on a Saturday night proved too much.
 
 
Innovative businesses like Uber are the product of a global need to connect people with accessible and affordable transport – and indicates that need is the key to a successful solution. 
 
That was the challenge for Melbourne Business School’s full-time MBA students who were given a week to think of the next ‘Uber’ and pitch their start-up business ideas to a panel of expert judges in an Innovation Bootcamp
 
From a wedding planning platform and booking service that aims to help time-poor brides find talent, to a social enterprise to engage unskilled workers in India and drive economic growth, the judges were hard pressed to choose a winner. 
 
But it was the idea for an online babysitting service to connect parents to qualified childcarers in their area that won over judges, Joe Hanna, CEO and co-founder of xLabs, Jack Rejtman, former co-founder of The Conversation news website and Charlie Day from the University of Melbourne’s Carlton Connect innovation centre. 
 
Joe, whose xLabs company has created innovative eye-tracking software to change website design and make computers more accessible for people with disabilities, said the online babysitting service identified a simple problem that is difficult to solve but for which a market exists. 
 
“A competition like this is critical to have in an MBA. You can only learn so much in books, but having these kind of sessions and having to think through what the real-world outcome would be is invaluable.
 
“The ability to innovate is critical in business now. Innovation is at the top of the agenda at every corporate in every industry that I can think of. It’s not just about start-ups, it’s about how you can foster innovation in every company and market.”
 
Bhupesh Sharma, a member of the winning team, said the idea for the service was born from the personal difficulty of finding babysitters.  
 
“I have a child, and I’ve faced this problem in India and here in Australia many times, so I think it’s a global problem, and the potential is huge.”
 
Fellow team member Valenteijn Van Gastel said the Innovation Bootcamp was not just relevant to creating a start-up business but was a great training ground for applying what you learn in class with the skills to pitch ideas to industry professionals and big business.
 
“What I learned most was that you could take one initial idea, spend time on it with a group of people brainstorming and refining it, and come up with a pretty cool business model and solution to a problem.”
 
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